What wild cats are in Texas?

The bobcat and the mountain lion a.k.a. the puma are definitely in Texas. The ocelot is said by some to be in Texas. You will see a range of opinions on whether the ocelot is in Texas or whether it has become extinct in that state. If it does exist in Texas, it is in the far south-east corner of the state on the border with Mexico. There is a Texas A&M University diagram showing where ocelots live in Texas from 30 years ago! Historically there were quite well distributed across the mainly south of the state but by 1990 there was just a small population on the border with Mexico as stated. And there’s a comment which states: “Ocelots in Texas? Now? WISHFUL THINKING!”

Bobcat at Big Bend Texas
Bobcat at Big Bend Texas. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Nature.org states that ocelots can still be found in Texas and that they inhabit dense chaparral thickets. And the Texas Parks and Wildlife website also states that ocelots are still found in Texas occurring in the dense thorny shrub lands of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Rio Grande Plains. But are these articles out of date. Have they failed to update their website? It happens.

Mountain lion kills buck in Texas
Mountain lion kills buck in Texas. Image in public domain.

If you look at distribution maps of the ocelot in the Americas they vary. Sometimes they just creep into Texas and sometimes the distribution falls short of Texas. There is a certain amount of confusion based upon Internet searches about the presence of ocelots in Texas. And you have to rely on Internet searches when updating yourself on the distribution of the wild cats because the picture is changing all the time; essentially it is shrinking.

Black bobcat
Black bobcat. Photo taken in Texas by Reddit reader.

If you have books on the subject as I have it becomes quite quickly out of date in respect of wild cat distribution. Over a period of 10 years there has been a stark and dramatic reduction in the distribution of nearly all the wild cat species. Even the IUCN Red List (the ‘experts’), which presents information online is massively out of date. Often their most recent information is dated 2014! Can you believe it? They state that the ocelot is resident in Texas as per the map below but the assessment is at 2014. Has it changed?

Ocelots in south-east corner of Texas on the Mexico border
Ocelots in south-east corner of Texas on the Mexico border according to IUCN Red List at 2014.
Ocelots are in the USA 2020 but only just
Ocelots are in the USA 2020 but only just. The list of places were the ocelot is found 2020 per the Red List.

I have an article on this topic: Are There Ocelots in Texas?

It is for these reasons that answering questions like the one in the title to this article can be difficult. You can’t just deliver a black-and-white answer in three lines.

There is a question mark as to whether ocelots are still extant in Texas and if they are they are virtually invisible! The bobcat is ubiquitous across the United States so we can say with complete confidence that they are in Texas where they are shot for their fur. Correction: they are “harvested”. I find that word very objectionable because it is treating sentient beings as inanimate objects like corn and wheat.

I’m digressing. Another wild cat species that historically existed in Texas is the jaguarundi. It is no longer extant (still in existence; surviving) in Texas.

Another problematic wild cat species in terms of whether it is still extant in Texas is the jaguar. It used to be in Texas but I think we can presume that it is no longer extant in that state. There are plans or were plans to re-wild this magnificent creature into Texas. I’m not sure how that programming receiving if at all. WB Davis, Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University states that it is extremely unlikely that the jaguar is in Texas although his article is undated which sadly is unhelpful! He was writing on behalf of the Texas Parks & Wildlife and his article looks very old! In 2016 I wrote that there was one jaguar in America.

In conclusion, in answer to the question ‘what wild cats are in Texas’ we have to state with certainty that the bobcat and mountain lion are present but it is very probable that the jaguarundi and jaguar are extinct in that state while there seems to be a question mark over the beautiful ocelot whose coat nearly destroyed the species.

SOME MORE ON WILD CAT DISTRIBUTION – a small sample from this site:

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Wild cat species in Michigan

According to some “experts” there are possibly two wild cat species in Michigan: the Canada lynx and bobcat. The lynx is ‘possible extant’. However, sightings contradict this and it may be reasonable to assume that there are certainly two and possibly three wild cat species in Michigan at the date of this post: bobcat, puma and Canada lynx.

As you can tell, there are two ways to list the wild cat species in Michigan. The first is to rely on the organisation charged with knowing which wild cat species are meant to be in the US state of Michigan. That organisation is the IUCN Red List (“Red List”). They have up-to-date information on the distribution of an huge number of wild species. You can add the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) to the Red List. Of these I trust the latter over the former.

The second way is to get evidence from the residents of Michigan and ask them whether they have seen the three wild cat species which are meant to live in this state. On the ground evidence may well clash with theoretical assessments. However, sightings by inexperienced people are often unreliable.

As mentioned, there are three wild cat species that could or should be in Michigan: the Canada lynx, the bobcat and the puma (mountain lion or cougar).

Michigan
Michigan. Image: Wikipedia.

Canada lynx

Lynx caught in Michigan
Lynx caught in Michigan. Photo: Michigan DNR?

The Red List states that the Canada lynx might be found in Michigan. They state that the Canada lynx is possibly extant (living) ‘passage’, which I assume means passing through the state. Lynx are found in Minnesota. However, there have been sightings by residents and more in Michigan. For example, on 19 March 2019 the news website WILX 10 reported that the DNR had captured a Canada lynx. And there was another confirmed sighting nearby. There have been rare sightings over the last 40 years. According to Michigan State University there have been three sightings in the state since 2003.

Bobcat

Bobcat in Michigan
Bobcat in Michigan. Photo: Hancock Wildlife Cam.

The Red List states that the bobcat can be found throughout the USA including, of course, Michigan. And I am sure this is confirmed through sightings on the ground. It is certain that the bobcat is in Michigan.

Puma

Puma in Michigan
Puma in Michigan. Camera trap photo by Michigan DNR?

The Red List and DNR state that the puma is not found in Michigan as it is too far east. The distribution of the puma is now far over to the west of America. The range of this iconic cat is being gradually confined to a smaller area in the eastern one third of America and all the way south through Mexico, Central and South America.

However, at 2012 there is a report of increased sightings of the puma on the website mybaycity.com. The conclusion is that residents of Michigan say that pumas exist in their state but as mentioned Michigan DNR and the Red List say they don’t.

You decide! My gut feeling is that the puma is extinct in Michigan as nearly all sightings are inaccurate and are in fact domestic cats. My conclusion to the question “What wild cat species are in Michigan?” is the bobcat and the Canada lynx – 2 wild cat species.

P.S. It is just possible that the odd individual puma has wandered into the state from the West while looking for a home range but this is highly unlikely.

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Bobcat Geographic Range

Bobcat geographic range
Beautiful American bobcat.

The Bobcat geographic range is shown below. It was created using Google My Maps. It is carefully based on the most up to date map at the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List). The advantage with this map is that it can be adjusted in real time by anyone who wishes to collaborate and fine tune it. The thought behind producing this map is to allow anyone with the knowledge and inclination to improve our knowledge of the bobcat by upgrading this map.

Not only can the range boundaries be adjusted by anyone (but please respect the map), flags can be embedded in the map which can,for example, describe a sighting that is of interest and which may extend the boundary. Or conversely, the boundary can be reduced (the more likely outcome) if someone knows that there have been no sightings in an area for a considerable time. Being constantly fine tuned should make this map of the bobcat geographic range the most accurate in the world bar none. You’ll have to be precise and know how to edit Google Maps. Please don’t attempt it unless you do.

What is the status of the bobcat at 2012?

bobcat hunting
Bobcat with grey squirrel in mouth – California – photo by randomtruth

The bobcat geographic range, as at 2002 and per Wild Cats of the World, extended from British Columbia in the south west of Canada and all along a narrow strip of southern Canada to Nova Scotia in the east. In addition, the bobcat used to range over all 48 contiguous (neighbouring, adjoining) US states but as can be seen clearly from the map a “hole” appeared in the more densely human populated and cultivated areas in the north east regions of the United States. Apparently, in 1987, in Ohio a very rare bobcat was shot. It was attacking someones hens. Why shoot it? Anyway it is listed as occupying Ohio still (Red List) but the map indicates that is doesn’t. Wrong? Please contribute.

In Mexico they occupy the less density populated northern areas. The bobcat geographic range is reported to be expanding in Canada, going northwards. Can someone confirm that from on the ground observations? Bobcats favour territory that is not too high above sea level but they have been trapped at 2,475 metres above sea level in the west of the USA and at 3,500 metres above sea level in Mexico.

Bearing in mind the large range of the bobcat it is not surprising that they are adaptable enough to be found in a large variety of habitats that includes, swamps, forests and grassland but they prefer dense cover. In the south of their range they prefer “bottomland hardwood forests”. Bobcats can be attacked by coyotes so tend to avoid areas where the coyote is found. When coyotes moved into New York State and Maine the bobcat population was limited.

Photo: Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.

Note: this page has been republished to refresh it. Some small amendments have been made.

From Bobcat Geographic Range to Wild Cat Species

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Wild cat species in Utah

The two certain wild cat species in Utah are (1) the bobcat and (2) the mountain lion (aka puma). The third possible wild cat species in Utah is the Canada lynx. The reason why I say there is some doubt about the Canada lynx is because Wikipedia indicates to me that this species of wild cat is present in Utah but the definitive answer should come from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Red List) and they are clear in stating that it is not quite present.

Wild cat species in Utah
Pictures published under CC license.

I suspect that Wikipedia is out of date. The books that I have are certainly out of date because the distribution of the wild cats is ever changing – shrinking in fact.

Wild cat species in Utah
Showing where Canada lynx has been reintroduced.

The Red List informs us that the Canada lynx has been reintroduced into a neighboring state of Utah, Colorado. However, the map clearly indicates that the reintroduction of this medium-sized wild cat species does not extend into Utah (see cropped version of map aove). I would say with certainty that there are two wild cat species in Utah namely, as mentioned, the puma and the American bobcat while the third is a poor possibility; the Canada lynx. I hope this helps.

There are many other pages on this website in which I discuss the presence of wild cat species in the various states of the USA. Please use the search facility in the right-hand column to find these pages. If you search for “wild cat species in” Google will find them.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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